I’d like to welcome Ethan Jones, author of Arctic Wargame. It’s now available on Amazon.
Bio: Ethan Jones is a lawyer by trade and the author of Arctic Wargame, a spy thriller available on Amazon as an e-book and paperback. He has also published two short stories: Carved in Memory, a prequel to Arctic Wargame, and The Last Confession, both available on Amazon as e-books. His second spy thriller, Tripoli’s Target, will be released in fall 2012. Ethan lives in Canada with his wife and his son.
Canadian Intelligence Service Agent Justin Hall—combat-hardened in operations throughout Northern Africa—has been demoted after a botched mission in Libya.
When two foreign icebreakers appear in Canadian Arctic waters, Justin volunteers for the reconnaissance mission, eager to return to the field. His team discovers a foreign weapons cache deep in the Arctic, but they are not aware that a spy has infiltrated the Department of National Defence.
The team begins to unravel a treasonous plan against Canada, but they fall under attack from one of their own. Disarmed and stripped of their survival gear, they are stranded in a remote location. Now the team must survive the deadly Arctic not only to save themselves, but their country.
Q: Tell us about your most recent book.
Arctic Wargame is my debut spy thriller and the first one in Justin Hall series. It explores a situation when Canada’s security comes under threat from an Arctic power through its northern borders. Two foreign icebreakers appear in Canadian Arctic waters. Justin Hall, a Canadian Intelligence Service agent, is dispatched with a reconnaissance team. They discover a large stash of foreign weapons and fall into a trap set up by one of their own. Left for dead in a remote area of the Arctic, Justin and his time must survive the elements and fight back for their country.
Q: Do you have any writing projects you are currently working on?
I’m working on revising Tripoli’s Target, which is the second book in Justin Hall series. This time, Justin and his partner, Carrie O’Connor, return to North Africa to meet with one of the masterminds of a terrorist network. The man in question has promised them high-value intelligence, related to an assassination plot against the US President during her visit to a G-20 summit in Tripoli, Libya. The US Secret Service is informed about this plot, and they take all necessary measures to protect the President. However, new intelligence points at a large flaw in Justin’s and Carrie’s plan. Now, they must scramble to avoid the disaster. Tripoli’s Target will come out in fall 2012.
I’m also working on Fog of War, the third book in Justin Hall series. Justin infiltrates Iran to help extract a defector, a nuclear scientist who can provide information on Iran’s uranium enrichment program and its plans to build a nuclear bomb. Easier said than done. The release of Fog of War is tentatively planned for spring 2013.
Q: How do you go about creating villains?
I try to make villains real and multi-dimensional. Their actions are justifiable in their own logic. The villains are just the dark copies of the hero, the main protagonist of the story. They have feelings, they reason, they act logically, only their goals are completely opposite to those of the hero. My villains are usually very powerful people, invincible at first sight, but my heroes are too stubborn and do not take ‘no’ as an answer.
Q: Are your characters ever based on people you know?
I avoid doing that, since I don’t like defamation or slander lawsuits (being a lawyer, I know about such things). However, some of my acquaintances or friends may find their name or a similar name in my books. Some of their favourite expressions or their gestures or one of their pet peeves may also appear in the personality of a character.
Q: What are some of the things that inspire your storylines?
My spy thrillers are in a sense inspired by current events. Not a dramatized version of true stories, but an imaginary development of a ‘what-if’ scenario. What if an Arctic power decided to take some unilateral military action in that sensitive area of the world? What if an assassination plot happens while the US President visits one of the rogue states of the world?
Another driver of my storylines is the desire to entertain the reader, to take them away from the ordinary and into an imaginary world where they can follow a great story and take a break from their daily routine. If I have accomplished that, my job is done.
Q: How much research do you do (if any)?
I do extensive research, since that’s necessary for the spy thrillers. The setting of the locals needs to be true and factual. The same about weaponry, gadgets and other equipment used by the characters. I learn about the geo-politics of a certain region, the main players and the relations between the different countries. I explore the background of current and past developments in that area, so that the storylines I create do not appear in a vacuum and do not come across as contrived.
Q: What was the most interesting trip you have ever taken? Why?
I was blessed with a great trip to Belize a few years back and it was wonderful. My wife and my son visited the Great Barrier Reef, snorkeled with stingrays, turtles and sharks, and enjoy the sun, the sea and the great beauties of this peaceful (and English-speaking Caribbean country. For Canadians, burdened by five months of snow, a break to the warm climate in the winter is a much-needed escape.
Q: If you had a million dollars how would you spend it?
I would give a large chunk to charity. I would invest some of the rest in writing full-time and hiring people to do most of the things that I have to do now, like publicity, marketing, and so on. Take another trip to Belize and stay for a longer period of time. Do some landscaping around my house.
Q: Are you a spring, summer, fall or winter person? Explain why.
I’m a Canadian, so we don’t really get a spring or a fall. I like winter, because I can dress in layers and get warm. I can turn up the heat in my home and feel comfortable in a t-shirt. I don’t like snow shoveling that much, but then, it’s great to have a son who does that.
Q: Sitting alone in a field, staring up at the stars, what do you feel?
I feel how blessed we are to have what our Creator has given us. A great beauty, a wonderful gift.
Exclusive Excerpt from Chapter Four
Pond Inlet, Canada
April 11, 11:25 p.m.
“The pilot was shaking so hard, I thought he was gonna die.” Kiawak raised his voice in order to overpower the shouting of his drinking mates. One of them, a skinny man who seemed to be losing his balance, slammed his beer jug on the table, splashing his buddies. They cursed and shoved him, and he cursed and shoved them back.
“So, you were… were you… man, you wanted to kill the pilot, ha, ha…” the skinny man pointed his empty jug at Kiawak and raised it to his thick lips. Disappointed that no happy portion flew down his throat, he yelled at the bartender for another beer.
“No, no,” Kiawak replied, the only one sober in the wild bunch. “I wanted to put him to sleep for a few hours, so we could clean his wounds. He was allergic to the drugs or something.”
Their chuckles echoed again throughout the small but crowded bar. Kiawak was telling some old hunting adventure, which became more entertaining when embellished with exaggerated details over a few drinks.
Qauins Bar and Hotel, at the southern edge of Pond Inlet, provided the overnight lodging for Justin’s team. In the bar, Kiawak grilled his unsuspecting friends for information on anything out of the ordinary in and around town. With a little more than twelve hundred people, everybody knew the affairs of everybody.
Three tables down from Kiawak’s, Justin kept an eye on the rest of the thin crowd. Earlier in the day, interviews with some of the residents and the courtesy visit to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment produced no results. About two hours earlier, Kiawak had moved to Plan B: the Bar Operation. In vino veritas. Justin remembered the Latin expression he learned while attending McGill University. Vine, or whisky and beer in this case, the saying went, always brings out the truth, even in the best of people.
The wooden door of the bar squeaked as Anna rushed in. The little man at Kiawak’s table ogled her figure, although she was wrapped in a thick Gore-Tex jacket and a black balaclava.
“It’s… it’s so… bloody, freezing cold out there.” Anna sat at Justin’s table, still shivering. She wiped the snow off her gloves and the hood of her jacket. Her nose was strawberry red, and tiny icicles adorned her thin eyelashes.
“Well, yeah. With the wind chill, it probably feels like minus twenty five out there.”
“More like minus one hundred.” She placed her balaclava on the table and straightened her hair. “The inside of my noise is frozen solid. I can’t feel my nostrils any more. All this happened while I was out for no more than five minutes. Oh, I need some hot coffee to warm up.”
“It’s almost midnight. Will you be able to sleep?”
“I know I won’t be able to sleep without warming up.”
Justin called the waitress and ordered coffee. He noticed Kiawak gobbling a whisky shot, his last one. Five drinks and two hours were the agreed terms of the Bar Operation. Kiawak was getting close to his endgame.
“Where did Carrie and Alisha go?” Anna asked.
“Alisha whined about a terrible headache and left at about the same time you took off. Carrie wanted to get a good night sleep before tomorrow’s long day. Did they know anything at the co-op?”
Anna blew carefully on the hot cup of coffee the waitress brought her and took a small sip.
“No, nothing useful. They wanted to talk to me about everyone and everything, but they knew nothing about icebreakers. The food prices were so crazy. I wanted to buy a can of pop and it was five dollars. Five freaking dollars.”
“Well, do you think your coffee will be less? Everything is very expensive here, since most of the year they have to fly in the food.”
The barman, a bald, middle-aged man, approached Kiawak’s table and exchanged a few words with its patrons. Some loud cursing followed, and Kiawak picked up the tab. He escorted his buddies to the bar door and exchanged a bear hug with each of them.
“You’re gonna lock up, Kiawak?” shouted the barman after he had cleared the rest of the bar from its drinkers, with Justin and Anna the only remaining customers.
“No, he will.” Kiawak pointed to Justin, while meandering toward their table. “I’ve got to hit the sack right away.”
“All right.” The barman flipped a switch behind the counter, turning off the main ceiling lights. The bar sank into half-darkness. Justin’s and Anna’s shadows danced under the flickering lights of two floor lamps at the far end corner, near stairs leading to the hotel rooms on the second floor. Another faint blue light glowed behind the bar counter.
“Oh, Justin, always the unrepentant romantic,” Kiawak said as he dropped in an empty chair next to Justin. Kiawak rested his hands on the table. They were now the only three people in the bar. “Enjoying some female companionship, eh?”
Justin chuckled. “Anything good come out of all that drinking, beside your sarcasm?”
“Nothing. Well, almost nothing.”
“What is it?” Anna asked.
“This guy from Grise Fiord, a well-known con, is trying to fence some guns. Big guns.”
“What caliber?” Justin asked.
“They didn’t know. This guy and his partner, well, girlfriend, buy or steal weapons in the south and sell them here, all over the place. Usually, it’s handguns and the occasional semi. This time, according to Mike, the little guy, it’s large cal.”